Kale is a Green Vegetable I used to hate: All those dark green curly leaves that you see, stuffed between bowls of vegetables and condiments in typical salad bars. It may look pretty, and of course, it doesn’t wilt for days. But when you start to eat it, it most often tastes disgusting—at least, that’s what I used to think. And yet strangely enough, our grandparents grew masses of kale, and ate it!
Kale belongs to the cabbage family. This means it’s both frost-hardy and grows beautifully in cool climates. This is important: Its resistance to frost comes from its ability to draw some of the complex sugars—the ones that are good for you—from its roots into its leaves when the weather turns cold. This means that kale harvested in the late fall tastes beautifully sweet. Of course, it’s much more bitter when harvested in the summer. But there are ways of getting round this too. The sugar that it draws up into its leaves in fall and winter is very low-carbohydrate—there’s about three grams of carbohydrate to half a cup of cooked kale, so you can eat plenty without worrying about ‘over-carbing’ yourself. In fact, I don’t think you could find a better vegetable for health. It contains masses of minerals and vitamins, and carries inside it the strength that gives us strength against illness and degeneration. It’s a particularly excellent source of vitamins A, C, E, K, and magnesium. If you don’t know kale—or if, like me, you’ve ignored it because you’ve found it revolting—it’s time to change your mind. There are two marvelous ways of preparing it that I’d like to share with you. The first is to sauté it in olive oil and garlic. The second: Kale chips, which are unbelievably delicious.
SAUTÉED KALE IN OLIVE OIL & GARLIC
What you need
- About 2 bunches of (preferably organic) kale, each of which should contain at least 10 long leaves
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ tsp salt
Wash the kale in cold water, and pull away the flesh from its stems. Tear into small pieces. Let drain in a colander or sieve for five minutes, while you gently brown the garlic in the oil in a large skillet. Add the shredded kale and salt to the hot oil, and cover. Lower the heat to simmer. Keep covered for ten minutes, stirring occasionally so it cooks evenly. Remove from heat and serve. You might want to sprinkle with a few cashew nuts, which go nicely with the dish.
MAKES 2 CUPS
My ultimate favorite snack chips. I think you will love them the first time you try them. Their crunchy, salty goodness is more delicious than fried potatoes, and they’re good for you.
What you need
- Half a pound of fresh kale (preferably organic)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
- ¼ - ½ tsp salt to taste
- 1 tsp flaked chili/a sprinkling of paprika/Cajun seasoning (optional)
Preheat your oven to 350° Fahrenheit (175°C). Rub one tablespoon olive oil onto a couple of baking trays. Tear out the center rib and stem of each kale leaf, and discard into the compost. Cut the leaves into bite-sized pieces, about two to three inches wide. Wash the kale and dry very well. Put your pieces in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, then sprinkle with the chopped garlic, salt and seasonings—these should be hand-mixed for even distribution. Place the kale in a single layer on your baking sheets, and bake until crisp and edges are slightly brown. This usually takes 12-15 minutes. About five minutes before they’re finished, gently toss them on the baking sheet for extra baking—but beware, they burn easily. Eat and enjoy, but be warned: This is something you will probably want to cook again and again. They are so delicious, even children love them.